RAW Computing

Access hidden features in TextEdit

TextEdit on the Apple Mac is a simple text editor, or is it? Despite looking very straightforward and easy to use, there are some advanced and hidden features that are not obvious from looking at the menus. For example, how do you change the background colour of the document? There isn't a menu option to do this and showing the Color dialog isn't much help either. It's actually easy when you know how.

Selecting text looks obvious and you just click and drag the mouse over it. However, can you select a rectangular block of text on the page? Yes, you can if you know the secret keypress that's required. There's more to TextEdit than meets the eye.

ConsoleChanging the document background colour is actually quite easy and some people may have discovered it by accident. Go to the Format menu and select Font, Show Fonts.

The fourth item along the toolbar in the Fonts dialog is used for setting the document background colour. Click it and the Color dialog appears and you can choose the colour from the palette.

Enter some text into TextEdit or load a text document into it.

You can click and drag over the text to select it, but instead of doing that, hold down the Option key and you'll see the mouse cursor turn into crosshairs.

Now you can click and drag a rectangle in the text to select it. Press Command+C and the text within the rectangle is copied.

To confirm this, create a new TextEdit document and press Command+V to paste in the text. Notice that it retains its rectangular shape. That's clever.

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